The Volkswagen Jetta has long been regarded as a Golf with a boot. That may very well be the case, but there are a few other cars around that had or have sedan and hatch versions. It’s certainly no less of a vehicle for having a boot, so how does it really stack up? A Wheel Thing tests the Trendline 118 TSI version.
Bottom line: it’s typical VW. That’s neither an endorsement or condemnation, it’s an observation of what the car is. First up, it drives well enough, it looks nice enough on the outside and in, was economical to a T (around 6.5L per 100 klicks on standard unleaded) and that’s pretty much most people look for. Whilst the SUV onslaught continues, it’s still nice to know car companies haven’t given up on sedans. Let’s take a look at the entry to a five model range…
Under the bonnet is the VW family’s 1.4L TSI engine (There’s also a 2.0L TSI and a same sized diesel in the range, plus a six speed manual or 6 speed DSG). Turbocharging and supercharging gives it plenty of torque, 240 Nm of it, from a handy and useable 1500 revs through to 4500 revs. Peak power is decent enough, with 118 kw on board (5800 rpm) but it’s a figure few will really ever take advantage of. VW recommends that the Jetta drink at least 95 RON, (preferably) or 98 Premium Unleaded from its 55L tank to extract the best performance from the 1337 kg (plus passengers and fuel) sedan.
Transmission was the well sorted 7 speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) from the VW family; it’s good, in the Jetta, really good. Smooth, crisp changes under acceleration, barely noticeable shifts in day to day driving (or, in other words, working as designed), only occasional stuttering in slow motion traffic. Naturally there’s manual shifting, (transmission selector only, no paddles) which was only called upon in certain downhill situations when the DSG would hold gear (generally third) and the preference wasn’t for the one chosen.
It’s an economical package as well, with the readout showing 6.5L of 95 RON petrol consumed for every 100 kilometres. Bearing in mind that the natural environment for the Jetta is urban, that’s a pretty damned good figure. Even better, it’s nearly the same figure VW says is a combined consumption number, with highway rated at 5.3L and urban at 7.7L…That’s potentially helped by that relatively low weight.Styling wise, there’s a clear resemblance to the Audi A4 sedan, which is no bad thing. Apart from the Scirocco and perhaps the Golf R, it’s hard to say that any VW vehicle is truly stylish but there’s nowhere near a need for a paper bag either. It’s not especially compact with a 4659 mm length, 2651 mm wheelbase (good interior room, as a result), stands just 1453 mm tall and is 1773 wide, yet clever packaging manages to make the Jetta look a smaller car than it is.
There’s the familiar VW corporate look at the front, being uncluttered, clean, easy to look at. There’s bulb lit driving lights, no LED’s, a simple creaseline along the side drawing the eye to the rear and it’s as simple and clean and uncluttered as the nose.
The aforementioned “Golf with a boot” scenario? There’s a massive 510L with the rear seats folded up which jumps to a (cough) “decent” 1858L seats down. A Wheel Thing presumes that’s good enough for most people. Speaking of the boot, the section (naturally) houses the tail light cluster, which is also clean and uncluttered in design.The interior is very much along the same design philosophy; the seats were black coth,most of the plastics were simple in print style, there’s the monochrome centre of dash display, dot matrix radio screen and simple to follow aircon controls. The seats themselves were supportive, manually operated and comfortable. All controls on the steering wheel where black and white in plastic and labels, again in keeping with the overall theme.
Ride and handling is more than competent for a car this size and in its class. Acceleration is startling and gives the 205/55/16 tyres cause for concern off the line. There’s little choppiness over bumps, it sits flat and taut on the freeway and off camber turns are dispatched nonchalantly, with no hint of the chassis becoming unsettled enough to fire you off into the bushes.
Steering is precise, measured, with no sense of the front wheels not going exactly where your mind thinks they should be. In slow traffic, there’s a deftness to the steering; in freeway traffic, it’s light enough to require only a brief expenditure of thought and effort. It’s a very well weighted and sorted package. Having a nice to hold tiller helps as well.
Naturally there’s all of the safety features expected along with a well weighted pedal feel for braking. EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) is on board to allocate braking force where required, there’s six airbags as standard, Brake Assist and Hill Start Assist (holds the brakes momentarily when in Drive, on a hill, when pressing the accelerator) whilst the body is also engineered to provide crumple zones and a you’ll get a 12 year perforation warranty, should a stone nick the paint enough to expose bare metal. There’s the ISOFIX mounts for junior occupants, reflectors inserted into the doors for night time safety and auto door locks which engage once the car is in motion.
Jetta is more than just a “Golf with a boot”, it’s its own car in its own right. It’s economical (tick), comfortable to be in and has plenty of space(tick),has unconfusing controls (tick), drives well and handles well (tick), looks fine enough on the outside with true European styling (tick) and isn’t expensive to buy at around $22K starting price (tick).
Factor in the quality build and warranty/service factors and the Jetta deserves a higher spot on your cars to consider ladder. Head over here: Volkswagen Jetta range and information for all you’ll need to know.